Thursday, September 3, 2009

Penny Stop Phils on 5 Hits; A-Rod Gets Hit #2500 in Yankee Win

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 2, 2009 American League At first glance, with just 23 home runs, 75 RBI and a .274 batting average, it appears that Alex Rodriguez is not having one of his better years. Of course, the numbers are down mostly due to A-Rod having missed all of April and the first week of May due to hip surgery, so having played in just 99 games, he's not doing badly, especially considering that he collected his 2500th base hit in the fifth inning against the Orioles, extended his hitting streak to ten games with a 3-for-5 effort and drove in 4 runs as the Yankees won their 6th straight, beating Baltimore, 10-2. The 12-time all star is still 25 RBI from the century mark, a level he has achieved in 11 straight seasons. A-Rod will have to drive in an average of just about 0ne run per game the rest of the way to make it to 100. The numbers don't really seem to be on Rodriguez's mind, however, as the Yankees cruise toward another AL East title. Their win, coupled with Boston's 8-5 loss at Tampa Bay, pushed their lead to 7 1/2 games in the division and reduced the magic number to 23. With a 34-11 record since the all star break, the Yankees have been the hottest team in the major leagues. With 2502 hits, Rodriguez ranks 88th all-time on the hit parade and is 4th among Yankees, trailing Lou Gehrig (2721), Derek Jeter (2713) and Reggie Jackson (2584). The caveat is that Gehrig and Jeter got all their hits as Yankees, while Jackson and A-Rod acquired theirs with a number of teams. Still, the thought of both Jeter, who is 35, and Rodriguez, 33, both reaching the 3000-hit plateau, is stunning. Jeter and A-Rod could just be the best left side infielders to ever take the field together. National League Brad Penny didn't fare well in Boston. Like so many National League hurlers, he simply found the transition to the AL more demanding than expected, so, after going 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 25 starts with the Red Sox, he hitched on with the Giants and viola! he's back in the National League throwing 8 innings of shutout ball against the Phillies in a 4-0 San Francisco win. Penny seemed at ease and in complete control of all his pitches, limiting the hard-hitting Phillies to just 5 hits, walking one and striking out two. Penny threw 102 pitches, getting 14 batsmen on ground outs and 8 on fly balls. It was just the boost the Giants needed, as the Rockies remained one game ahead in the wild card race with a 5-2 win over the Mets. The Braves are 4 back and the Marlins 5 off the pace. With Penny, the Giants have solidified an already stellar pitching staff which includes Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito. With 29 games left on the schedule, each of the top four starters could get 7 starts, a huge edge in a short period of time. NOTES: The Texas Rangers simply won't go away. They continue to dog both the wild card leader, Boston, and the AL West-leading Angels. Texas trails the Red Sox by just 2 1/2 after knocking off Toronto, 6-4, on Wednesday, and are just 3 1/2 behind the Angels. LA hasn't been able to quite put away the Rangers and they run the risk of losing their grip on the division as they face Texas 7 times in the final two weeks of the season. The two teams hook up at Arlington on September 18, 19 and 20, and then meet again in LA on the 28th, 29th, 30th and October 1. Those games should decide the division, especially since the Angels have, directly preceding the first series in Texas, a make-up game at the Yankees followed by a 3-game series in Boston. The Rangers could make the race a tight one.

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